More boys than girls are born every year in the U.S. But any lead in health men start with vanishes with the first dirty diaper.
From infancy to old age, women are simply healthier than men. Out of the 15 leading causes of death, men lead women in all of them except Alzheimer's disease, which many men don't live long enough to develop. Although the gender gap is closing, men still die five years earlier than their wives, on average.
Men rarely see Thomas J. Weida, MD, for medical tests without prodding from a wife or girlfriend. When they do show up, Weida jokes that he “can see the drag marks on the carpet.”
It’s amusing, of course. But it can quickly turn serious when a man ignores important symptoms. Weida says he knows of men who got away with ignoring chest pain for a couple of weeks. Eventually, though, they died of heart attacks.
While the reasons are partly biological, men's approach to their health plays a role too, experts tell WebMD.
"Men put their health last," says Demetrius Porche, DNS, RN, editor in chief of the American Journal of Men's Health. "Most men's thinking is, if they can live up to their roles in society, then they're healthy."
Men go to the doctor less than women and are more likely to have a serious condition when they do go, research shows. "As long as they're working and feeling productive, most men aren't considering the risks to their health," says Porche.
But even if you're feeling healthy, a little planning can help you stay that way. The top threats to men's health aren't secrets: they're known, common, and often preventable. WebMD consulted the experts to bring you this list of the top health threats to men, and how to avoid them.
Cardiovascular Disease: The Leading Men's Health Threat
They call it atherosclerosis, meaning "hardening of the arteries." But it could as easily be from the Latin for "a man's worst enemy."
"Heart disease and stroke are the first and second leading causes of death worldwide, in both men and women," says Darwin Labarthe, MD, MPH, PhD, director of the Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention at the CDC. "It's a huge global public health problem, and in the U.S. we have some of the highest rates."